Migrants across the world are on fire; either literally or figuratively. At least in Greece they are, in both ways. Last week, refugees along with their children in the Greek Island of Lesbos were tear gassed by riot police. In a now usual scenario, the police that is supposed to protect people was witnessed protecting a 2016 agreement between the European Union and Turkey. This, in the latest Greece protest, contributed to chaos and most especially, migrant abuse; an emerging practice that needs immediate global attention.
Aftermath of Monday’s Greece protest drew major attention. People on the Internet criticized the government of Greece, expressing despise and disgust against its inhumanely act. The event also became a catalyst for shifting the world’s focus to the burning issue of migrant crisis taking place all over the world. Be it the migrant abuse endured by asylum seekers at the US-Mexico border camps, or the racism and incarceration of refugees of color in Europe.
During the recent Greece protests, shocking images of people running haphazardly amidst clashes with the riot police emerged. However, the images of the frightened children choking on tear gas was what broke the Internet and the hearts of worldwide witnesses of the Greece protest.
It was a heart-breaking sight to watch helpless little mouths gasping for every breath, as their traumatized eyes searched through the crowd for a familiar face to comfort them.
The Fault in their ‘Dissent’
The endless wars and their impact on the economic conditions of Middle Eastern nations has led flocks of refugees to seek resettlement in the European Union. Greece, between 2015-2016, has acted as a gateway for more than a million such asylum seekers from Syria and other gulf nations.
Besides the island of Lesbos, the Aegean Islands – situated near Turkey – has been clambering with an increased immigrant flow, too.
More than 40% of these migrants are children, who were targeted in Monday’s tear gas attack.
The refugees were being punished with tear gas attack for choosing dissent over tolerance.
The government remained calm as long as the immigrants remained voiceless about the conditions they had to bear with at overflowing refugee camps.
However, despite holding peaceful protests demanding faster asylum procedures and better conditions at camps, the migrants had to face tear gas and Greece’s riot police. In no time, the government of Greece changed the face of a peaceful protest into the ugliest chaos of 2020.
People were seen washing the faces of their children with Coca Cola and other fizzy drinks to prevent the impact of tear gas. The sight became the latest evidence of the extreme migrant abuse in the Greek island. This happened after they were tear gassed for revolting against the notorious conditions at the Moria Refugee Camp on Lesbos island.
Camp Moria is known to be a notorious place housing immigrants fleeing to Greece in the search of freedom, only to end up living in way more pathetic conditions.
The idea of the protest was to walk to the main town of the island of Mytilene to demonstrate against the terrible conditions at camp Moria. Unfortunately, the protestants were tear gassed by authorities before that, simmering their hopes of claiming justice.
Camp Moria, which is supposed to accommodate 3000 people, was now stacked with more than 19000 refugees; way above and beyond its capacity and capability.
As a result, many were forced to live in makeshift shelters set up on muddy olive fields.
The deprived were further kicked to the ground in the aftermath of Monday’s Greece protest. Refugees are not allowed to move across the overcrowded Lesbos island into the mainland, because of a 2016 EU-Turkey deal, restricting migratory flow.
People are dying at the rate of insects at Moria camp. Nevertheless, all that the government seems to care about is controlling the protestors and protecting the EU-Turkey immigration deal.
Poor life security, extreme weather conditions and lack of proper medical facilities have led to multiple deaths at the camp. Some lost their lives to stabbing while others died in fires or succumbed to curable diseases, respectively.
Despite all that they had been through at the migrant camp, the already exploited and deprived sect of migrants were tear gassed by a well-equipped government that ironically promised them secure refuge in their country.
Kids were seen in a state of shock or trauma, due to the tear gas attack, which followed choking, dehydration, foaming from the mouth, etc. as a result.
Even though the migrants were put through traumatizing experiences, one after the other, the islanders returned to protest on Tuesday. This time the stronger and the anger was higher. The posters read more chilling messages like for instance, “our children are still alive,” reminding authorities of Monday’s appalling tear gas attack.
Immigrants across the world are exploited in the name of security, freedom and livelihood that they were first deprived of as citizens and then as refugees. As a result, their gamble of migrating to a new country either made them a victim of their circumstances or of abuse at the hands of the country they migrate to. This has surfaced in the forms of human rights abuse, deprived living conditions, murder, sexual abuse and human trafficking. All in all, Greece protests turned out to be a brand new event showing a raw and bitter side of today’s world.